Prepare Your Child For A Medical Check-Up

Taking a child to the doctor can be upsetting for everyone. Try these tips to avoid stress when preparing your child for a doctor's visit.

No one particularly enjoys a doctor's visit, kids least of all. In fact, a checkup or immunization update can be positively terrifying for young children, who have been known to scream, cry, sulk, and even elude a patient nurse's capture.

If your children are less than enthusiastic about a pending visit to the pediatrician or family doctor, here are a few tips that can help to calm them and you.

1. Schedule the appointment for a good time of day. Toddlers and preschoolers function well soon after arising and eating, while older children do well after school. Avoid evening or weekend visits unless necessary, since children can become cranky, hungry, and tired during these times.

2. Tell the child what to expect. Use simple words and a matter-of-fact tone:

"We're going to the doctor after breakfast this morning. Let's get you cleaned up to look nice. You can show the nurse your fresh face and clean teeth. Maybe the doctor will let you hear your heart with the listening thingie."

"The doctor and nurse are going to look you over today to be sure you're good and healthy. Let's show them our best manners so they can see you're nice inside and out."

For older kids:

"You have a doctor's appointment after school today, so I'll pick you up instead of your riding the bus. After your checkup the doctor can sign the sports medical release that you need for soccer, so we'll have that out of the way."

"The checkup shouldn't take long. They'll check your ears and throat, along with the rest of your body, to be sure things are working right. Then we'll get home and have supper."

3. Make it a fun outing. Pack a snack, bring a coloring book, or stop for a treat afterward. Connect the doctor's visit with something pleasant and the kids may actually look forward to the next time.

4. Downplay negative aspects. If your child is due for an immunization booster, say so in simple terms:

"You're getting a quick shot today to keep you from getting very sick with a serious illness. Aren't we lucky to have smart doctors that protect our health?"

5. Emphasize the important role of medicine in today's society. Watch for opportunities in the news or newspaper, on television, and in other people's lives to remind your kids of the value of good medical care. When the news reports outbreaks of disease overseas, let your children know it's because they see a doctor regularly that they avoid serious medical conditions.

6. Set a good example. Take a cheerful tone in mentioning your doctor visits, lab tests, or immunization boosters. Demonstrate gratitude and an appreciation for health that kids are quick to pick up on.

Going to the doctor can be a strain for kids. With a few thoughtful, preparatory steps, you can help them adjust to and accept their medical treatment as a gift rather than a punishment.

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